At first when given this prompt, I thought that other than my piercings maybe, I clothes were pretty standard and that they didn’t reflect anything. But, the more I thought on it, the more I realized the extent to which my clothing was a reflection of my values, personality, and how I wished to have those two things perceived by others through my clothing.
The personal beliefs and values that are supported and expressed by my clothing can be divided into two groups, values and beliefs I want to project to others, and values and beliefs that are more internal (though, that isn’t to say that the values and believes I wish to express to others aren’t based on my own internal thoughts, it’ll be made more clear later in this essay).
Much of my clothing for a couple years consisted solely of black and muted or dark colors. I felt like it was “bad-ass” and for myself and for a desired projection of my image I liked wearing clothes that had a “dark” or “troubled” personality vibe to them part of this was because I was always kind of a loner and part of this was because I really liked the Goth subculture as my mom and her brother were both parts of that subculture when they were my age. In addition to Goth, the Punk subculture also played a role as I had always tried to distance myself from mainstream youth culture. Part of the reasoning however, also probably had to do with the fact that I was chronically depressed for the majority of my life.
Around this last Christmas break however, I was fed up feeling sad all the time and I was desperate for relief so I did what I could short of medication. The first thing that came to my mind was adding brighter colors to my life. I bought a bright blue cell phone case and did something unheard of and fairly experimental for me, I decided to cease buying anymore clothing that was black or had a bleak look to it. They say that they way you dress and your actions can influence thought, sort of like how a uniform or business suit may make one feel more professional, so I tried doing the same with my own casual, everyday, clothing. I started buying the opposite of what I had always worn, which meant bright, sometimes neon, bold colors –which was also sort of in the fashion with the ‘80s revival clothing has seen in recent years.
And you know? I think it did work. At first it felt very strange and I was very aware of the reasons behind what I was doing which made it slightly unsettling, having to confront the issue. After a while though, I got used to it and I can’t imagine ever going back to black now. I think I do feel better wearing brighter colors. At minimum, I don’t feel as cast out anymore as I was draped in grey and black.
Lately my clothing purchases and choices have been limited to tank tops and swim suits, mostly because of the summer heat. One thing that’s interesting about this is the change in self image shown by my current predilection to tank tops. This time a year ago, I would have never worn a tank top. My self-mage was so poor that I thought I would spare people the sight of my in a tank top, nor did I want to be seen in one for myself. This is despite the fact that I’ve actually gained weight since last year -that is the improvement I have made! I’ve overcome myself image problems finally recognize now I’m certainly not fat in any way, shape, or form. Though back when I was in elementary school, I was quite overweight for my age, and this way of thinking about myself it seems had carried on even when the weight had not.
My family values are represented in my appearance by the 80’s Goth culture from my mom and uncle as mentioned by my formerly monochrome wardrobe and from 90’s culture from my mom when I was growing up, this is more specifically in relation to my black ear piercing that comes down with two prongs on each side of the earlobe like a horseshoe and has a spike on the end of each prong. I felt this piercing was fairly 90’s as it’s based on the same piercings my mom had from that time. Nostalgia, of course wasn’t the only reason I got it. It also catered to my liking of Goth and Punk; I mean although my clothing color choice had changed, I wasn’t necessarily an entirely new person. My mom always was a kind of “out-there” person and my clothing is also a reflection of my upbringing in an environment with a culture that subscribe with the norm. However, I am feeling the pressure of trying to fit in this, my first year of college, so that is changing to an extent and sometimes I make clothing choices the purposely reflect the norm for people my age.
My peer community is rather mixed at the moment. In high school, I went to an International Baccalaureate school that was separate from the main high school in my town; I had extremely limited interactions with students who typified the norm for our age group for four years due to the fact that I never had classes on the main campus. As a result, my graduating class was only 25 people. We were weird and we were nerdy. For example, we started a “Keep Our Campus Weird” group inspired by Portland’s “Keep Portland Weird.” Some of the events we had on our little campus included “Dress like a Communist Day” and “Bring your Luggage to School/Dress like a Tourist Day.” Compared to the other campus, we were our own mini Portland or San Francisco in the middle of rural Oregon. Other than these “event days” my clothing and that of my friends sometimes tended to stray on the avant-garde or experimental realm, though towards senior year we did level out a bit.
My experiences to the dorms have been a far cry from mu experiences in high school and adjusting at first was difficult. I will admit that I and the other people in my graduating class cultivated a holier-than-thou culture and looked down upon the “normal students”. Suddenly, that group was gone and the people who previously we had shunned were now my peer group. I was caught between a group that had once venerated strange clothing a new group that saw it as crazy and now I didn’t know what to think and which way I should dress. So far I’ve been center right in my clothing choices in that they’ve been a little more in line with the main stream but I do try not to be a carbon-copy. Some more Punky values shine through like my lip piercing which I had wanted for years but was too afraid about how it would look or what people would think to get it. In order to fit in more though, I’ve begun to flirt with the idea of becoming a little more carbon-copy in recent months. I know I shouldn’t change myself to please others but having a class of 25 students total lead to having very few close friends and an extremely small peer group. I’m itching to experience everything I missed out on in high school, the typical American teenager experience, before I’m no longer one myself.